As they had arranged, Caelithil sits seemingly patiently at the pavilion with his back turned to the ramp up, allowing Kandri the last minute choice to flee from the meeting in case she felt it necessary; however, the moment her leather sandal covered foot hit the bottom of the ramp, he knew of her presence. He had spent the morning in a meditative state at the pavilion, so that he could attune himself to his surroundings, allowing him to be much calmer than if he had not. As it had been agreed to, Kandri brought a light meal with her; feeling it was the least she could do for bringing him so far from where he calls home; although, in the back of her mind, she wonders why she cares so much about inconveniencing him. Caelithil is garbed simply with his normal worn-leather pants and boots, polishing off his look with a billowy and cool spring green cotton shirt. Quite the abnormal color for the older man, but as things had been looking up for him, he was feeling much more invigorated, much more lively, younger even. Sihai could certainly attest to that with some of his boyish antics. He made no move, no slight tilt of his head, and no twitch of his ears when Kandri reached the halfway mark of the room they were in.
Kandri fidgeted the entire walk to the pavilion, adjusting the food in the basket, fixing her hair, nervously chewing on her lip. Her gaze darted around to look for Eli. As promised, he had made the journey with her, after talking in Moonglade, she had even less worries about this meeting with her father, but Eli was still rightfully worried and had promised to be nearby. However, Kandri could not see him, she hoped the same about her father. She could not believe she was doing this. Seeing him willingly. And yet, now she stood there, barely out of arms reach of him. She had dressed nicely, better than she should have. He could hurt her easily as she wore a simple sundress. The pale peach looked heavenly against her skin, the cut of the garment made her look much more like the adult she was. Drop-waist, long cuffed sleeves that had slits running up their length to keep the dress cool and breezy, as well as a knee-high slit to keep her from tripping as she walked.
She takes a deep breath and parts to her lips to speak a greeting but nothing comes out. Kandri turns around and walks back to the top of the ramp. This time, she makes her footfalls louder more noticeable. Caelithil still does not move, making Kandri wonder if she had gotten here with someone else present. This man was far to calm and controlled to be her father.
He laughs to himself as he hears her movements, wanting to just turn around and hug her. His mind was in a very good place today, his own nervousness has melted away as he sat there and awaited her. Though his chance for a good meeting is quickly slipping away as Kandri apprehensively turns around to walk away again. She was not going to disturb this stranger’s meditations to inquire about her father.
Caelithil glances over his shoulder once Kandri turned to leave; his voice is soft and curious but very familiar to her. “Kandri?”
She freezes the tension becoming rapidly apparent in her shoulders and neck. Kandri speaks quickly, anxiously in Darnassian. “I.. I did not know it was y-… Could not recognize-..”
Caelithil stands up with the rustling of his worn-leather pants and turns to face his daughter. “It gave you the option of leaving, if you had changed your mind. It does not phase me if you have,” he makes a motion towards the ramp even though she could not see it. “Please, feel free to take your leave if it is what you wish.” Caelithil sits back down, this time facing Kandri.
She blinks and spins around to face her father. “You would have me leave?”
“No.. I would have you do whatever felt right.” Caelithil knew he needed to act quickly to distract Kandri as her tension kept building, it was a gamble for him, but he also knew distraction often helped Sihai keep from spiraling downward. His gaze very obviously flicks over to the picnic basket Kandri holds. “Although, whatever you brought smells delightful.”
Kandri blinks stupidly for a moment before perking up, the distraction seems to have worked. “Oh!” She chews on her lower lip, shifting her weight from foot to foot and in the process making herself look much younger, much more uneasy than she actually felt.
This brought back a memory to the man, to when she had just been informed of him taking over her lessons because news of Talridorn having to leave for Nordrassil had reached them. His smile dims as he recalls how she ran around Talridorn’s legs as a small white panther, how she feared him, and adored Talridorn. It was his turn to do what he knew he had failed at, being her parent. Caelithil reaches out for her; although, he comes nowhere near reaching her. His voice is quiet and concerned, “Kandri, come take a seat. I promise not to…” he knits his brows together, “not to approach you unless you tell me otherwise. My movement will stay obvious and clear for you.”
She bobs her head slightly, nervous still, although she knew of his meeting with Eli and she knew what Sihai had said and thought about him. Kandri takes another step forward and sits down, smoothing out the skirt of her dress. With the basket placed beside her, she opens it and the sweet aroma of the strawberries waft into the air. Before setting the food out, her shoulders droop. She had forgotten plates to put them on.
Caelithil chuckles softly watching her expressions change so quickly, that had not dimmed over the years since she was a baby. He motions to a saddlebag he has near him. “I brought a couple things with me, perhaps something in my bag would help?”
She blushes faintly, glancing down to the picnic basket, she should have remembered. “Is okay if you want to get..”
He leans to the side, stretching out far to pull the bag to him. Out of it Caelithil gets a simple but large wooden plate, as well as, a sealed and covered glass jar. Both are set near Kandri.
“What’s that?” She looks at him before her gaze wanders around the perimeter of the pavilion.
“A surprise. Something I made before taking the flight up to Darnassus but do not tell Sihai.” He chuckles softly. “I did not tell her or share any!”
Kandri blinks confusedly and tentatively reaches out for the jar. At first, she tries to peel down the cover on it, too peek inside through the glass, which elicits a soft and amused chuckle from her father. She huffs out, sending her bangs upwards for a couple of seconds. Finally, she moves to try to twist off the jar’s lid but that proves to be quite the struggle and she ends up failing. Kandri looks down at her hand with red cheeks, her grip had been so tight that it tore at her skin leaving her hand irritated and pained. Tears well up in her eyes unexplainably. She was getting utterly overwhelmed so quickly.
Caelithil reaches out for the jar but as he sees the tears gathering, his hand makes a b-line for Kandri instead, for her hurt hand. Mere inches away, he manages to stop himself. “Ssh. It’s okay, Kandri.” He holds out his hands, palms facing the sky. “May I see your hand?”
Kandri moves away from him quickly and backs herself into one of the many pillars. She keeps her hurt hand hugged to her chest as she stares intensely at the ground. Everything had become silently except for the breeze in the nearby trees causing the leaves to rustle and even a few strays to dance to the ground. Caelithil pushed himself upright and approaches where Kandri had moved to; however, he keeps himself closer to the inside of the pavilion instead of blocking the ramp to leave. He sits down, palms facing skyward again. “I will not touch you without your permission. I have a couple cloth napkins in my bag if you want to wrap your hand.” His words were spoken firmly, like the pillar she had backed herself into, but softly as the pillar is rounded.
She looks up at Caelithil with tear-streaked cheeks, biting on her lower lip to keep it from trembling. He smiles gently, calmly… Before motioning to her cheeks and hands and inquiring again, “May I help?” Kandri shakes her head from side to side faintly as she points over to his bag.
Caelithil nods in return before standing and moving to his bag. From it, he pulls out two napkins and looks back to Kandri. “Do you have a water skin in your basket?” She nods. He cracks the lid on the picnic basket, rummaging through for a moment before finding the water skin and making his way back over to his daughter. His mind is racing from the sudden turn of events, from the sudden change of her emotions. Caelithil wets one of the napkins and offers it to Kandri… His hand bumps into her hand, eyes widening as he quickly pulls back. The apology begins to fall from Caelithil’s lips instantly upon contact. “Kandri, I did not mean to… I am sor-“
However, Kandri interrupts him, bumping her scratched up hand against his again. She holds her palm up towards the sky, revealing the injury to her father. Caelithil moves closer cautiously and picks up her hand. This time he allows his buried fatherly instincts to take over, gently dabbing the damp cloth over the injured spot to calm the skin. “I am not a healer by practice but I do have the basic skills… If you wished.” She simply nods her head as she stares up at his nervous features. Studying his expression, all the creases and wrinkles, how the sweat gathers on his brow… She finds him very intriguing.
His hands begin to tremble as Kandri nods. In his mind, this was his chance to prove to Kandri that he could do more than just destroy. He carefully takes her small and delicate hand between his large and calloused hands, holding her hand firmly without applying pressure to her wounds. Caelithil murmurs a quiet blessing to Elune as he calls upon the demigod Cenarius to grant him the ability to mend his daughter’s hand. A warm green glow emanates from his hands, gently heating her hand until the increased blood flow mended the ripped skin back together. It takes a couple of minutes for Caelithil to manage such a simple spell, healing such a minor wound.
He falls back and drops his hands to the ground. All this time with Sihai broke him of hiding his emotions, which allowed Kandri to read his fear and nervousness on his face clearly. When her hand had not began to hurt more, her studious stare lightened and as he fell back, she holds out her healed hand. “Look. Is okay.”
Caelithil blinks dumbfoundedly at his daughter for a couple minutes before moving to brush his fingertips against the back of her hand. “R-right. Shall we return to the food?”
Kandri smiles shyly; although, it quickly turns into one of her classic bright smiles. “Only if you open the jar.”
He could not help but to laugh, causing his crows feet at the corner of his eyes to stand out. “Of course. I will open the jar.” Caelithil pushes himself up from sitting back on the ground and offers Kandri a hand up; however, she shakes her head faintly and gets up from the ground without the help. Both of them move back over to the unset picnic. First Kandri lays out the strawberries onto the wooden plate as her father pulls out a couple more napkins and passes her one. He lofts an eyebrow, smiling broadly. “I hope you enjoy these. I had not baked in quite some time.” He chuckles quietly as he untwists the lid from the jar with only a little force applied. After setting the lid down, he tilts the jar to reveal a stack of sugar cookies to Kandri. She forgets her manners for a moment as her hand darts up to take a cookie from the jar, eliciting a mirthful laugh from Caelithil.
They both eat in silence, savoring the strawberries and nibbling away at the cookies. It is only after most of the snack is gone that Caelithil speaks up again. “I’d like to learn more about you, if you do not mind.”
Kandri shrugs a shoulder as she finishes up another cookie. She reaches into the picnic basket and pulls out another water skin and takes a sip from it. “Not know what want to know.”
“Can I ask questions then?”
She bobs her head in a nod. “Might not answer all… But willing try.”
“I would only expect answers to whatever you are comfortable with… I am guessing that you live with Eli; from everything I have heard from him and Sihai. What’s your home like?”
Kandri lets out a quiet snort and crosses her arms. “Why? Not approve of Eli?” She became defensive very quickly, having had to defend her choices in the past to other people.
“That is not it in the slightest, Kandri. He seems to be a very respectable young lad. Considering he met with me weeks ago, under your request for him to give me a chance… It is clear he loves you dearly. I am a curious old man.” He sighs quietly, glancing off to the side for a moment. “Sihai and I live in southern Ashenvale, in the hills. Our home is made up of multiple round rooms that have decks and stairs to connect them. A large garden- which, normal circumstances, I am banished from for being a distraction.” He chuckles softly, smiling from a couple memories in his mind. “It is a home I built many years ago, when I was much younger.”
“O-oh… Am… Am sorry.”
“There is no need to be sorry. I have not been in your life as I should have been. You were merely defending the man that keeps you safe while letting your heart soar.”
A small giggle slips from Kandri’s lips as she bobs her head. “He does do that! Okay, will share about home.” She shifts her weight into a more comfortable position to sit in; although, less proper for a young lady in a dress, she looks more at ease. “Is like a cave, in Moonglade. Has hallway leading in, then room for the tub on the right. Big main room next with food and storage to left and bedroom on right. Is all big circles. We cook outside and.. And have big garden! Was surprise, I was working on it without Eli knowing for -weeks-.”
He chuckles, “Well, men are clueless at times. Have you been settling in well?”
She bobs her head in a nod. “Was my idea to get tub and have mattress under furs and pelts. Started moving in my things from the inn too, almost done now.”
“Those were very good ideas. What other ideas do you have?”
She squeals out a tiny noise. “Windows! Can see garden then when inside. But not know how to put windows in and keep home dry and comfortable temperature.”
“Maybe send me a sketch of the layout of your home? Get a tape measure and see how large the rooms are… Maybe Sihai could even build you something. I could make the windows and tell you how to put them in, unless it is okay with Eli, then I could help you put them in.”
Kandri beams a smile, fidgeting with excitement. “R-really? Would do that!?”
Caelithil begins to reflect her excitement, his crow’s feet becoming much more pronounced as he smiles. “Of course I would. I want to be in your life and will gladly help as needed, whenever you and Eli want me to. The same for Sihai. She would love to be your friend and would help you however she can regardless, because you are my daughter.” He chuckles softly, shifting his weight to stretch. “When did you start living with Eli?”
Her excitement dies down; although, Kandri’s beaming smile does not. “Went to a friend’s wedding in Hyjal and then reception in Dalaran. They were drinking lots and dancing. I ended up drinking too much wine, was just a little funny feeling and stumbled couple times when Eli tried to teach me to dance after we left.”
He lofts an eyebrow. “Dancing lessons? That’s a new way to put it.”
She squeals in laughter again as a bright red blush comes to her cheeks. “Nooooo! Not that! Real dance, slow.” Kandri holds up one of her arms and wraps the other one around an imaginary body, swaying slightly from side to side as if dancing. “Tripped on Eli’s feet. Head felt silly too. He got really worried and said regardless of where I went, he was going to stay night to make sure I was okay. He took me to his home that night. Curled up and hid from him in all the animal furs after he gave me some cookies he had baked as a surprise.”
Caelithil rumbles in amusement. “He sounds like quite the perfect man for you.”
“H-he is! Sihai seem same way for you.. I like her. Frostbite too. Can tell more about her?”
“Is wintersaber cub Eli and I adopted.”
“That is wonderful to hear. Sihai… is amazing. I can think of no other word for her. She has done so much and put up with even more. She is the reason we are here; she offered to write to you, to talk to you. I do not think I would have gotten so far with my own healing…” he taps his forehead, implying his mind, “… without Sihai at my side.”
She quirks her head to the side curiously. “How did you meet her?”
“She looked lost and sad, wandering by the warrior terrace. I offered to show her around and help with her memories. We got into some mischief with the sentinels that day. She made her hands cold and shook hands with a couple with me at her side.”
Kandri looks at her father, blinking with confused expression. “Played pranks on sentinels? Is odd.” She shakes her head slightly, to clear her thoughts. “Said she has done much?”
Caelithil nods, pursing his lips as he scratches at his beard in thought. “She has helped me overcome some.. Of my worse traits. She has put up with me being a grumpy old man. She has healed me back to good health more than once.” He chuckles mirthfully, “Including some wounds I got in Hyjal. That was the first time she saw me so injured. I was less than pleasant, probably hurt her heart some.”
Kandri frowns deeply, shifting her weight to sit properly again. “You threatened my friends.”
He settles his gaze firmly on Kandri’s eyes. “I… I cannot express my full regret for my actions the last year. I will not make excuses. I /do/ expect lash back Kandri. Sihai might not be as understanding as I am when it does occur, as she loves me very much, but I now am seeing clearly. Kandri, I do not want to worry you; however, if the worse happens, Sihai can have a home with you? I.. You have been written into-“
She blinks as he begins to speak, cutting him off before he could finish what he had wanted to say. “I know and yes. I don’t know if Eli and I would move but regardless she would have a home. With us or with your home, where ever she wanted. Sihai offered to become a friend in the letters… She has become that to me. I think Eli will not be convinced as easily as me, but he will see with time.”
Caelithil nods once. “Tell me more about Eli. He is quite the good man; there is no doubt to that, his actions with me the other week and how he speaks of you… Any parent would have been pleased.”
Kandri plainly states, “He is my love. He has been there since I stopped running, since coming home from Hyjal.”
“Did he come with you to Darnassus?”
Kandri nods slightly, pursing her lips before speaking. “He was uneasy about me seeing you.”
“I’m shocked he isn’t with you at the moment then.”
“I asked him to let me do this alone…”
He lofts a brow with a curious gleam in his eyes and tone. “Oh?”
She smiles faintly, “He has had a good meeting with you… I had not yet.”
Caelithil’s eyes glisten with the tears he had held back earlier while mending his daughter’s hand. He shifts his weight cautiously, keeping his hands visible and his movements calculated. When he does speak again, his voice is barely a murmur of a whisper. “Kandri…” He settles down to sit on his knees, resting his hands on top of his legs much like an animal waiting for a command.
In an instant all of Kandri’s calmness melts away. She stares up at her father, blinking with large and confused eyes; although, she does not move an inch. Caelithil reaches out to Kandri but stops his hand inches away from her arm, before lowering his hand to the ground. “Sssh. It’s okay. I’m sorry for moving so close without asking first.” With that, he scoots back a few inches and dips his head with an apologetic smile. “It is just that I have wanted to give you a hug since you arrived. Your nervous shuffling was very cute. I would have hugged you then, but much preferred the chance to speak with you than scare you away.” Caelithil clears his throat, shifting his weight again. “May I hug you Kandri?”
She blinks dumbfoundedly for a couple of seconds before meekly nodding ever so slightly. “Y-yes, is okay.”
Her father is much taller than she is, this becoming blatantly obvious to Kandri as Caelithil leans down to wrap his arms around her slender body. She sits there, uncertain and unmoving as Caelithil hugs her. Kandri’s arms hang at her side throughout. As he begins to pull away from her, he leans down and picks up Kandri’s hands. Caelithil sits down on his bottom and crosses his legs, hunching over slightly to bring him to Kandri’s eye level. His thumbs press into her palms lightly as he speaks again. “Kandri, I need you to hear me out. I *am* very sorry, for everything. Maybe if I had not left while you were a baby, none of this would have ever happened; but, I cannot go back and change that. I cannot change how I treated you.”
Kandri softly murmurs, “I know past cannot be changed.”
“I was a monster and you have been given -every- reason to hate me and want me out of your life for good. And yet, here we are. You have so much more love and courage than most people could even begin to fathom. I do not think this will mean much, coming from a man you barely know that has caused you great pain. I am proud of the woman you’ve become despite me. I am grateful and humbled you have given me this chance.”
Kandri silently begins to cry, tears race down her cheeks as she listens to him. Everything Sihai had said and the recount of his meeting with Eli… Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope for her father and their relationship. Without asking, Caelithil reaches up and brushes away her tears with his thumb, lowering his hand afterwards. “Eli… Is a good man, better than me. You two will take good care of each other, that much is clear. He has answered a father’s wishes for his daughter.
Whether I am in your life or not, that is solely up to you and I will respect and honor your wishes. Know this, whatever you might choose, I will always be regretful I could not be the proper parent, I will always support you if you need it and, I will always love you.”
He sits back down, slouching over as all his pent up emotions finally were released and the words he had been dreading sharing were finally said. Months ago, Caelithil would have suppressed all of this, all of the tears that welled up in his eyes until they could no longer be contained. And yet, he feels them meander down his cheeks and into his beard. As he turns around to reach for a cloth napkin, Kandri stutters out. “I… You.. Eli.. Th-this…” She seems to be in utter shock for a moment as she tries to comprehend everything he had said.
As Caelithil sits back down, Kandri lunges at him. Tear streams still paint her face as she wraps her arms around him in a hug, this time it is her squeezing him into a hug. Caelithil gets knocked by and caught off guard by Kandri’s lunging. His hands quickly move up to hug her in return, rubbing her back as he does so. “Sssh. It’s okay, Kandri.”
She whimpers out a quiet noise as she sits back. “Am so-“
He moves surprisingly quickly, lunging forward to gently take Kandri’s cheeks in his rough and calloused hands. “You have no reason to be sorry.” He leans forward and kisses her forehead before moving away to pack up his few items, the napkins, and the plate… He looks to the partially filled jar of cookies. “I’ll leave these with you, so Sihai doesn’t get jealous.” He chuckles quietly, winking at Kandri. “I’ll take my leave now, while we are on a good note if that is acceptable for you. You mentioned wanting a good meeting… We can talk about those questions you have another time.”
Kandri giggles softly as she leans forward to reach for the cookie jar. “Yes, is okay. Would like to see again, as said, have questions.” She smiles brightly up at Caelithil; although, her cheeks are still damp with tears. “Will write to you and to Sihai again.”
Caelithil smiles as he stands up, pushing himself up from the ground. He pulls the strap of his satchel across his body with a slight nod. “That sounds perfect. Do you want walked to the flight master or…?”
She shakes her head from side to side. “Need find Eli then have some shopping to do.”
“Okay.” He walks over to the ramp before stopping to smile back at Kandri. “Stay well, daughter.” With that, Caelithil form contorts into a stormcrow and flies off, out of Kandri’s sight.